I remember visiting Crake Tree Manor just outside of Appleby, Cumbria 8 years ago this year. It was a cold, wet and icy day. We, my mum, grandma, Granda and I, were all very jet lagged from stepping off a flight from Florida the day before, never the less my Granda revved the engine as his Lexus' wheels spun along the very dirty dirt track up to the large farmhouse.
Inside we were greeted by three gorgeous Jack Russell Terriers, we were then taken into the office where in the corner was only what I can describe as a small piece of heaven. 6 tiny little puppies falling over their feet greeted us with wagging tails.
The smallest of them all, the runt, affectionately known as Rupert found himself a comfy spot by my feet. He looked at me, I looked at him. He looked back at me, I looked down at him. This tiny little baby wagging his tail had broken down my icy exterior and my heart began to overflow with love.
Infatuated by this tiny, gentle animal the other 5 puppies blended into insignificance for I knew that he had chosen us. To be part of our family. To be part of my heart forever.
As I lie in bed typing away, back in his native county of Cumbria he snores away positioned with his bum snuggled into my side as he lies with his back along the bottom of the pillow, I reflect on how when a dog enters your life they change you for the better and what we can learn from these incredible creatures.
From that very first time, we met the 4-week old little terror he showed us a love like no other. A love for something other than ourselves. An eternal and unrequited love.
The wagging of his tail. Even when you leave the room momentarily. He is the most excited for your return as if you've been gone forever.
For that excitement can make even the loneliest of people feel wanted, the saddest of people feel happy and the weakest of people feel strong.
For the love you receive from a dog is unconditional, it's ever lasting and it's the most pure and genuine love there is. For we are his everything. He has nobody but us. He lives his life for adventures, for interaction and for enjoyment with us. His family. His best friends. His forever.
For times we are not patient, and times he is too vocal, but he protects us, he guards us and he never lets harm come to us. He takes it as his responsibility to be the man of the house. A role he undergoes all too well in front of the window cleaner, the postman, the paper boy and the bin men whilst behind closed doors. In front of them, he simply lies on his back waiting for his stomach to be scratched.
He's taught us to give everybody we come into contact with a chance, whilst at first, we may be wary, if we treat everybody we meet with the same excitable spirit as a dog, the world looks a much better place.
He's taught us that routine is great, and whilst every day isn't Groundhog Day if you have a little routine in your life it leads to consistency, a daily adventure around lunchtime to blow the cobwebs makes for a pleasant break. A relax, a way to recharge. To explore your surroundings and discover the scenery in which you live.
He's taught us that it's alright to be upset and emotional, you don't have to talk, you don't have to explain. He will lie with you and wash away your tears, he will snuggle into you when you need him the most. He's taught us compassion.
For the games he invents himself, with over 10 different versions of fetch he sure is creative, teaching us that one simple thing often has many different answers. If you have a problem, there's always multiple solutions. So never be beaten.
Most of all, yes most of all, at a time when he was needed the most, he showed us that we can love again and for that, we are forever thankful.
Ziggy Rupert, we are eternally grateful that you entered our lives and changed them for the better, every day you bring a smile to our faces and a love in our heart and we are looking forward to the rest of life's lessons you send our way. We are truly blessed for you to have chosen us as your happily ever after.
I love you my very bestest friend